Black bees reintroduced at Kingcombe centre, Dorset

Dorset wildlife trust has recently introduced a colony of black bees into the DWT Kingcombe in West Dorset. The aim of this project is to establish a successful regional population in the area and to study foraging habits and pollen preferences in the colony, to better understand these bees’ behavioural patterns. The colony was extracted from an already established and successful colony in South Wales, and introduced to the Kingcombe centre orchard.

The dark European honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera)
Photo credit – V. White

Also known outside of the UK as the dark European honey bee (Apis mellifera mellifera), the black bee is a subspecies of the European honey bee (A. mellifera). UK populations of the black bee were thought to be extinct by the 19th century, mainly due to a proliferation of tracheal mites, tiny parasites which infect and reproduce in the breathing tubes of the bees, however small isolated populations were found in Wales and Scotland back in 2012.


Considered as the ‘native’ honeybee, the black bee is perfectly adapted to the colder climate of the UK, able to fly and survive in colder temperatures, considerably larger than the continental honeybees, and with longer hairs on the thorax. It is also thought that these bees are more resistant to some diseases, such as bacterial and amoebic infections.


It is hoped that the establishment of this colony will not only help to increase local pollinator diversity, contributing to local ecosystems by boosting pollination, but also prevents an exciting opportunity to understand more about the bees’ behaviour in order to conserve them and increase local biodiversity.

Elephant shrew species rediscovered in Africa after 50 years

A curious little mammal, a species of elephant shrew, has been rediscovered after being absent from scientific observation for 50 years. Despite some local sightings, the animal had been ‘missing’ from scientific records since the 1970s. It has now been seen again in the African nation of Djibouti. Previously known only from Somalia, the Somali Sengi, or elephant shrew is one of the most mysterious species of sengi, with only 39 specimens previously known to science.

Copyright: H. Rayaleh

The elephant shrew looks very much like a mouse, with a small furry body and long tail, and so named for its long, trunk-like proboscis, which they use to feed on insects. However, these curious little mammals are in fact part of a group called Afrotheres, which means they are more closely related to Elephants, Manatees and Dugongs, than to mice.


In the current environment where species are being lost at an alarming rate, this discovery is a highly important and positive one. The discovery proved puzzling to scientists, because as the name suggests, the Somali sengi was originally only known from Somalia. The next planned expedition will be to track these animals using GPS radio tracking to learn more about their movements and behaviour.

Fungi and other soil organisms are key in preserving biodiversity

Fungi are often seen as fruiting bodies, or toadstools (© Camila Duarte)

Largely invisible and often overseen, fungi and other microscopic organisms are highly abundant in soils across the world, and play a fundamental in maintaining the biodiversity and nutrient balances in their ecosystem.

Fungi, although visible in the form of fruiting bodies, or toadstools, during certain times, are largely invisible, existing as microbial threads in the soil. It is estimated that there are some 3.8 million species of fungi, only a fraction of which have been formally described and identified. These organisms are incredibly abundant in soils around the world, an are a key component of biological nutrient cycling, as they break down organic matter, releasing key nutrients and compounds from dead bodies. Fungi are found in a variety of areas such as rainforest, woodland, grasslands and even rocky substrates (in the form of lichens) but are most abundant in open areas such as grasslands and Savannah, where they are important in helping poorer soil uptake nutrients.

Fungi exist mainly as a bundle of microbial threads called a mycelium (© Nigel Cattlin)

In the Amazon rainforest for example, fungi are surprisingly abundant and varied. For example, a teaspoon of rainforest soil is estimated to contain around 1800 species of microscopic organisms (according to a study carried out by Dr Camila Duarte of Germany), at least 400 of which are fungi. These fungi are so diverse and they occupy a variety of niches in the forest, such as lichen (a symbiotic relationship between fungi and microscopic plants), some living commensally in the roots of plants and some as plant pathogens and parasites. Each and every one of these plays a significant role on the forest floor, breaking down organic matter and releasing nutrients back into the soil, to be used by plants and animals.

In this sense, the sheer diversity of fungi in the soil means that it is essential to consider this hidden diversity in conservation efforts, particularly in such fragile ecosystems as the Amazon rainforests. Due to their inconspicuous nature fungi are often overlooked in biological surveys, but they are key for nutrient cycling and also act as carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide from dead organisms.

An abundance of fungal species are found in the soils of the Amazon rainforest (© Nathalia Segato)


Some species are also edible, and are a source of medicine, indeed fungal compounds are being considered as new antibiotic sources in the light of antibiotic resistance. On the other hand, some fungi are considerable pests to crops, while others are disease-causing pathogens which cause disease in humans and animals. There is much to learn about soil fungal diversity, in order to incorporate these organisms into conservation efforts, and to help maintain biodiversity.

Resourcing the Future for Wildlife in Dorset

Resourcing the Future for Wildlife in Dorset:
Brian Heppenstall, Senior Ranger at BCP council
Wednesday, 12 February 2020 at 13:00 (GMT)

Bringing together conservation organisations and local business

The interest in the future of our wildlife and related environmental issues is driving a great deal of behavioural changes, for example 72% of miliennials are willing to spend more on products from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact. In the US, those companies whose employees were given time to undertake charitable environmental work, found that 76% of staff felt better about their employers.

It is no wonder then, that businesses are working to adopt green credentials, visible to both their customer base and their employees, in order to drive success.

Through networking and showcasing, delegates at this conference, will explore problems for local wildlife conservation. There will be a focus on local case studies, and opportunities to seek new collaborations and find potential solutions.

This years key speakers, Dr Anjana Khatwa and Ben Hoare, will address one of the most important resources within any sector – the workforce, and principally the issue of societal representation in the conservation sector.

This conference will therefore look at two strands:

  • Encouraging links between conservation organisations and business to encourage partnerships and the provision of support/resources in the mutual interest of preserving the local environment
  • Employability, skills and diversity within the conservation sector (in Dorset)

PROGRAMME

Introduction/welcome

 Refreshments available 

The Importance of Wildlife Conservation in Dorset

Professor Rick Stafford – Bournemouth University

The Future Workforce: The Impact of Work Placements

Julie Gill, Placement Coordinator – Bournemouth University

Frances Jenkins, Placement Coordinator – Kingston Maurward College

Case Study, Short Film: Hengistbury Head Placement Scheme

Does Nature Conservation Represent Society

Key Speaker: Ben Hoare, Editorial Consultant, BBC Wildlife Magazine

Privilege and Permission: Being Brown in a White Landscape

Key Speaker: Dr Anjana Khatwa, Learning and Earth Science Specialist

Go Wild – Collaborate!

Introduction by Luke Rake, Principal and CEO of Kingston Maurward College

Nature Volunteers: Matching opportunities with resources

Rachel James, Wild Paths, Dorset Wildlife Trust

Ali Tuckey, Durlston Country Park

Puff Storey, 3 Sided Cube, Tech For Good

Lottie Forte J.P. Morgan, Volunteering and Community Relations

Guest Speaker Panel Q&A

Networking Opportunity and Buffet


A full programme will be published to attendees nearer the conference

Please arrive at 13:00 for a prompt 13:15 start

Refreshments and a buffet dinner will be provided

Pre-booking of parking is required and once the spaces have been booked, no further parking on campus will be available.

 #rfwDorset


For futher information on this event please contact brian.heppenstall@bcpcouncil.gov.uk

 How to get to BU: Directions, parking & maps

 Accommodation: The University has preferential rates with a number of local hotels, please quote Bournemouth University when booking to access these rates.  (Preferential rates are subject to availability and will be advised by the hotel at the time of booking)

Carlton Hotel
East Cliff Court Hotel
Miramar Hotel
The Green House Hotel

 Please note that before placing an order, you will be asked to agree to Bournemouth University’s terms and conditions (see below). Please read these terms carefully and make sure you understand them before ordering any Products.

Bournemouth University’s Online Event Terms and Conditions

 Photos may be taken at the event. If you do not want to appear in any photos, please notify a member of staff at the event. For further information on the use of photos and videos, please refer to our privacy policyDo you have questions about Resourcing the Future for Wildlife in Dorset? Contact Brian Heppenstall, Senior Ranger at BCP council

Book your place here now:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/resourcing-the-future-for-wildlife-in-dorset-tickets-75832273371

Super news for Snakes in the Heather

Photo credit: ARC

‘Snakes in the Heather’ is a new and exciting ARC project which has been awarded support from the National Lottery. The project aims to conserve Britain’s rarest reptile, the smooth snake, by bringing together key partners including Amphibian and Reptile Groups, Wildlife Trusts and other non-governmental and governmental organisations.

Over the past two centuries there has been an extensive decline in the smooth snake’s primary habitat, lowland heathland. The species is now only found on the heaths of Dorset, Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex, with a special introduction site in Devon. It is a very secretive creature, choosing to bask within heather vegetation and burrowing out of sight. For this reason, its ecology, behaviour and distribution have been difficult to study and therefore its status and conservation needs are poorly understood.

The £412,000 National Lottery Heritage Fund grant will develop partnerships between organisations and community volunteers, and harmonize conservation efforts across southern England.

The project will raise awareness and “ownership” of reptiles among local communities through the media and events, greater community awareness of smooth snakes as a unique component of our biological heritage. We will use a “citizen science” approach to help us conserve the smooth snake by training new and existing volunteers to carry out targeted reptile surveys. This will provide valuable data to better understand the smooth snake’s needs in order to support and inform conservation decisions. Volunteers will also carry out practical tasks to improve the species’ heathland habitats across Southern England.

The project’s legacy will ensure better managed, more resilient smooth snake populations through a greater, shared understanding of the conservation needs of the species.

The project will build on the strong local partnerships that are already in place and runs until 2023.

For more information on Snakes in the Heather contact:

smooth.snakes@arc-trust.org

Article source: https://www.arc-trust.org/snakes-in-the-heather

Marine Life of Poole Bay event at Hengistbury Head

Hengistbury Head visitor centre will be hosting a free presentation on the 3rd February, 19:00-20:30, showcasing the diverse marine life within Poole Bay. This event will display footage collected through Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) surveys conducted over the past 3 years. The presentation will also discuss the impacts artificial structures such as coastal defences (seawalls, groynes, breakwaters) can have on marine life and showcase ways in which we can improve the habitats provided for marine life on artificial structures.

PhD researcher Alice Hall from Bournemouth University who studies the ecology and enhancement of artificial structures. She has spent the last 3 years researching the marine life associated with artificial structures on the south coast of England and will be showcasing some of her work at the presentation.

 

 

Booking is essential – please call 01202 451618 to reserve your place.

LES undergraduate receives grant for the restoration of marine protected area in Bali

A second year Environmental Science student at Bournemouth University has received funding from the prestigious Society of Conservation Biology to continue his placement work into the restoration and protection of the marine environment on the Indonesian Island of Bali.

Zach Boakes has successfully co-founded an NGO with Balinese locals and established a marine protected area, designed to help with the problems of pollution and overfishing. Some of this work has involved the construction of artificial sections of reef (pictured), designed to restore structural complexity and encourage recruitment of coral, fish and other marine organisms.

The funding will allow us to create 50 more artificial reef sections and to help restore the area to how it was before it became so damaged. The project is ongoing and volunteers continue to monitor the reef and contributing to the education of the local community.

Biodome carnivorous plants reveal hidden microbial diversity

Some carnivorous plants hold ‘pools’ within the plant consisting of rainwater and secreted substances such as sugars, used to lure and trap insect prey. Microscopic analysis of this fluid collected from pitcher plants (Sarracenia sp.) and bromeliads (Brocchinia sp.) growing in BU’s Biodome has revealed a rich diversity of single-celled microorganisms. These microbes, less than half a millimetre in length, are known as ciliates and distinguished by hair-like cilia that they use for locomotion and feeding.

Ciliates are incredibly important grazers, feeding on bacteria, algae and organic matter, and are a crucial part of the microecosystem within the bromeliad and pitcher plant pools, which also includes algae, bacteria and insect larvae, such as mosquitoes. In turn, they are also fed upon by mosquito larvae and copepods that also grow in such pools, playing an important role in energy transfer from microbes to animals.

One of the microbes found within the pools was the ciliate Euplotes, pictured above. © J.Dazley

Saving Europe’s Crickets and Grasshoppers From Extinction

A recent assessment of cricket and grasshopper species in Europe has shown that up to 25% are facing extinction. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the group Orthoptera, which includes Grasshoppers, Crickets and Bush Crickets, is the most threatened group assessed so far. An estimated 1000 species of Crickets and Grasshoppers are found in Europe. They play a vital role in grassland ecosystems; many species of birds and reptiles feed on them. The main factor contributing to decline is habitat loss due to wildfires, tourism and intensive farming. Many species are confined to small areas due to the break up of their natural habitats; for example the Crau Plain Grasshopper has been confined to the steppes on Southern France.

So what can be done in order to protect these insects? According to research from the IUCN Global Species Programme, more effort must be put into restoring the habitats of these insects in order to increase population size. This can be achieved using sustainable grassland management by employing traditional agricultural practices. It is imperative that these insects are saved from extinction, not only because they are very important biodiversity indicators, but also they are an integral part of grassland ecosystems.

Image Credit: Axel Hochkirch